With Jim’s Bait and Tackle
With the first month of summer almost over, you have to wonder if the weather is actually going to settle and we are going to see some consistent warmer days. Overall the water temperature is cooler than normal, and I think this is having an effect of the fishing but only that you need to think and do differently. Maybe we are just in for what used to be, for those who remember when the hot weather would come out as soon as you went back to school, and you would be cooking in a classroom. It was back then that there was a call for a change in the school holidays to change and for kids to go back to school just after Christmas then have an extended break in February. Things change and have been for millions of years, climate change, climate evolution or some other factors is a debate that will go on forever. We have seen changes to the fishing seasons in the 14 years we have been in the shop and this year has been a perfect example of change.
Our most consistent and better reports this year have all come from different times and different areas from those thinking outside the box and changing their normal habits.
Fish numbers fluctuate and at times it appears there are no fish there, many base this on what they see at the cutting tables which has also changed. We are finding more and more people are taking their fish home to clean, people are being more secretive about their catches, telling you they had a bad day when there is an esky full in the boat. The other big change we have seen is people are starting to use all of the fish, either taking it home and making soups or stock from the carcass or making their own berley for their next trip out. So just looking at the number of heads at the ramp isn’t a good indication anymore.
We also hear “we used to come down as a kid and catch heaps from the jetties and now there isn’t anything much around”. Probably the biggest reason is there aren’t 60 commercial boats at the jetties cleaning scraps into the water anymore. We see lots of people, especially this time of the year and we also hear of or see lots of fish. Many of the reports we are given in confidence and respect that from customers so don’t always report all of the fish we hear about.
We are just starting to see many of our local customers head back out for a fish after the initial rush of Christmas and they are finding plenty of fish just not the size of fish they were expecting. If you haven’t fished since before Christmas, you will find a huge difference in the size of both the whiting and the pinkies. The last time many went out, the whiting were high 30cm with a handful of undersized. Now they are, just size or undersized with a very small handful of bigger ones and it’s the same for the pinkies as well. Those who have fished through would have noticed the change but I don’t think the bigger ones have gone away I just think there are so many of the smaller ones that the bigger fish battle to beat them to the baits.
Both the pinkies and the whiting have been similar and what makes me think the bigger ones are still around is every day we get that one report from someone who just happened to drop on them and bagged out of both types of fish around the 40cm mark.
While the conditions haven’t been favourable all week there was plenty of opportunity if you were here hooked up ready to go but the guess then came, where to go. Many of the reports again came from of those not so familiar places that tend to be fished by visitors. The better whiting, we had reported came from deeper water but much closer to Elizabeth Island this week than Tortoise Head. The best of the snapper/pinkie reports came from the edge of the channel on the Newhaven side of the bridge.
With the unsettled weather, many stayed to the land based fishing where you just had to go to the opposite side of the island to the wind to find a fishable spot. Because this time of the year we get a lot of people that are new to the area and even new to fishing itself and because of that we get lots of people come into the shop to identify something they caught. 90% of the time the fish is a wrasse, the problem is it usually comes into the shop dead in a bucket, so wouldn’t matter if it was a protected fish or a fish not worth keeping, it’s not going to swim away. There are plenty of people standing on the jetties or where you are fishing that could identify it for you or simply jump on your smart phone and look it up.
The land-based calamari that came from all the common areas, San Remo, Newhaven jetties, Cleeland bight, Ventnor beaches, have been ok while nothing special in numbers. They are being caught, as always on a mixture of colours and plenty are using baited jigs with equal success. The best times have been on change of light, morning or evening, everywhere and those fishing during the day, it’s been the change of the high tides especially later in the week where the tides started lining up with the changes of light. No one is telling us that they are bagging out but getting enough for a feed and plenty for bait as well. If you are new to fishing, it’s one of the easiest species to target and you can use the most basic of equipment.
The Australia Day long weekend is coming up and it will mark the end of the school holidays and back to work for most. There are those who work January and take holidays in February, often the best time of the year around the island. The kingfish reports are becoming regular when the weather allows and a few that have been on the water telling us they have seen plenty. Not a lot of size to them yet but as it is with kingfish, one that is just over size can go as hard as one that is 1 metre long and anybody that has eaten kingfish will know they are well worth the effort required.
Those looking for the kings at the moment are reporting the hardest part of it is to actually find bait that is small enough to use as live bait with some very big yakkas and mackerel in the bait schools.
We will be opening at 6am over the long weekend but will be going back to 8am opening during the week. If the weather is going to be perfect on a weekday and you want an early start, just give the shop a call because there is a chance we will be here so you can stock up before you head out. We will continue to open at 6am Saturdays and Sundays through to Easter and if you are coming down for Easter, keep an eye on our Facebook page because we are starting to set up our good Friday Appeal fishing competition. The fishing competition is growing in size and with 100% of the entry going to the Good Friday Appeal, it’s a cause well worth supporting. When we finalise entries, we will advertise it on our social media and this year there will be an early entry draw with a prize well worth winning.